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Wright Chemical Corporation

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: NCD024766719
Location: Riegelwood, Columbus County, North Carolina
Lat/Long: 34.3284, -078.2051
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Proposed: 03/04/10; Final: 03/10/11
Affected Media: Ground water, Surface water, Soil, Sediment, Aquatic biota
Cleanup Status: Study underway
Human Exposure Under Control: EPA is working to determine
Groundwater Migration Under Control: There is insufficient data to determine
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In continued use – industrial land uses are located on site
Site Manager: Cathy Amoroso (amoroso.cathy@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Wright Chemical Corporation site includes an area where an acid manufacturing facility and a fertilizer manufacturing facility have operated since the 1880s. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011 because of contaminated ground water, surface water, soil, sediment and aquatic biota resulting from facility operations. EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) have investigated site conditions. EPA is undertaking additional studies at the site to understand the type, source and extent of contamination before issuing a cleanup plan for the site.

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Site Location and Background

The 758-acre site is located next to Livingston Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River, approximately one mile southeast of Riegelwood in Columbus County, North Carolina. The site includes two properties: a 720-acre northern property and a 38-acre southern property. A railroad corridor separates the northern and southern properties. The northern property includes two manufacturing plants, several impoundment ponds, two spray irrigation fields, a waste pile, two former sulfuric acid plants and two unlined lagoons, which make up Wright Chemical Corporation’s 45-acre manufacturing facility. The southern property formerly included a phosphate fertilizer manufacturing operation. Currently, the southern property is vacant. Livingston Creek includes a wetland area and a fishery. Undeveloped forested land surrounds the site. Rural residential areas are located southeast and northwest of the site. The site’s broader surroundings include industrial and rural agricultural areas.

From the 1880s until the 1960s, Acme Manufacturing Company operated a sulfuric acid manufacturing facility on the northern property and a fertilizer manufacturing facility on the southern property. In 1959, Wright Chemical Corporation took over acid manufacturing operations on the northern property and constructed a second manufacturing building. In the 1960s, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation took over fertilizer manufacturing operations on the southern property until the early 1980s. Acme Manufacturing Company became Wright Chemical Corporation in 1968 and became the owner of the site. Wright Chemical Corporation continued operation of the acid manufacturing facility until 1991.

In 2004, Oak Bark Corporation purchased the site and sold portions of the site to several companies. Momentive Specialty Chemicals, Inc. currently owns and operates a chemical manufacturing facility on part of the site. Silar LLC also currently leases and operates a specialty chemical manufacturing facility and laboratory on part of the site.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, surface water, soil, sediment and aquatic biota that could potentially harm people in the area or the environment. Contamination resulted from manufacturing operations and waste handling practices at the site. Contaminants of concern include arsenic, lead, pesticides, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-VOCs such as formaldehyde and acetone.

EPA and NCDENR found devegetation downgradient from the former manufacturing plants due to low pH of the soil. Surface water drains to Livingston Creek and the Cape Fear River approximately two miles from the site. Contamination affected sediment in Livingston Creek as well as clam and fish tissue and the wetlands area of the creek.

Soil contamination, sediment and surface water contamination in Livingston Creek, and the potential discharge of contaminated ground water to surface water pose a potential threat to anglers and trespassers on site.

Sampling indicated contamination in ground water on site. However, EPA does not believe the ground water flows in the direction of private wells.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA leads site investigation activities in cooperation with NCDENR.

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Site Cleanup Plan

EPA is undertaking additional studies at the site to understand the type, source and extent of contamination before issuing a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site.

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Cleanup Progress

In 1984, EPA conducted sampling and identified soil contamination at the site.

In the 1990s, Wright Chemical Corporation closed the on-site impoundment ponds and conducted a ground water assessment in 1997.

From 2006 to 2008, NCDENR conducted site investigations to support the site’s listing on the NPL.

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Enforcement Activities

NCDENR negotiated with Wright Chemical Corporation to conduct cleanup activities in the 1980s and 1990s.

EPA is conducting additional research and site investigation. EPA is currently using federal funds for site investigation. EPA plans to work with the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to conduct future investigation and cleanup activities.

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Community Involvement

EPA is working with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA will conduct a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts will include public notices and meetings. EPA will coordinate additional public involvement activities as part of the North Carolina Department of Health’s public health assessment.

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Future Work

EPA is currently undertaking additional studies and site investigations to understand the type, source and extent of contamination.

EPA plans to work with the site’s PRPs to conduct the remedial investigation/feasibility study for the site and to perform cleanup activities.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

EPA has not yet established a repository for the site.

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